A Quinnipiac University poll out today shows overwhelming support for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and a new law requiring abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals. The release states: “Gov. Bob McDonnell, who backed the legislation, remains highly popular with a 61 – 21 percent job approval rating, matching New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 62 – 22 percent job approval as the best in states surveyed . . . There is virtually no gender gap as women support tougher regulation of abortion clinics 54 – 21 percent, while men back the measure 57 – 24 percent. Support is 62 – 12 percent among Republicans, 57 – 21 percent among independent voters and 47 – 34 percent among Democrats.” With what seems like a touch of disappointment, Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of the polling institute explains: “There is strong support for the new abortion law among men and women. Opponents apparently have been unable to convince the electorate that this is an unwarranted back-door way to stop abortions. Even Democrats, by a plurality, support the measure.” Perhaps this is an issue Republicans might want to consider in other swing states.
But the real news here is McDonnell’s staying power. He won in 2009, when Republicans were at low ebb, by nearly 20 points. Brown explains: “Gov. Bob McDonnell’s approval numbers, up from 55 – 26 percent in a June 29 Quinnipiac University survey, are among the best in the country. Not only is he personally popular, but so too is his budget. Virtually every other governor in the country must be envious about Bob McDonnell’s numbers.” The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that “independent voters approve [of McDonnell] 67 – 17 percent, while Democrats are divided 39 – 40 percent,” the poll found. “Even black voters, historically a Democratic group, approve 46 – 32 percent.”
This should tell us a few things. First, McDonnell’s brand of conservatism — fiscal restraint, focus on bread-and-butter issues and a low-key demeanor — is a winner. His statements on matters of national concern are focused on policies, not partisan one-liners. He’s worked well with a state legislature that often clashed with his predecessor. Second, he has figured out how to connect with suburban voters in a state that had been trending Democratic in recent years. Third, if the GOP thinks Virginia is a critical state and wants a sober, reliable vice president pick, McDonnell should be on the short list of candidates.
The popularity of McDonnell as well as the abortion measure should concern Democrats, not only in the upcoming state legislative elections this year, but also for the 2012 election. McDonnell is the un-Obama. McDonnell is serene, President Obama is peevish; McDonnell has cut spending while preserving essential services; Obama is a spend-a-holic. McDonnell is unifying; Obama is divisive. McDonnell has had success in spurring job creation; Obama has not. McDonnell is plainspoken; Obama is condescending. Voters seem to like the un-Obama model a whole lot more.
Come to think of it, why doesn’t McDonnell run for the top of the ticket?